Isaiah Thomas acknowledged Tuesday that he is not in perfect health at the moment, as he recovers from a hip injury that forced him out of last season’s Eastern Conference finals. However, the high-scoring guard, who is awkwardly caught between the Cavaliers and Celtics as they stare each other down over trade terms, insisted that he has no long-term issues and will return at full strength.
“I am not damaged,” Thomas told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “I’ll be back, and I’ll be the same player.”
Thomas was sent to Cleveland as part of a package in exchange for Kyrie Irving in a blockbuster deal last week that was held up by the former’s physical examination, in which the Cavs apparently saw something they didn’t like. Cleveland, also set to receive Boston’s Jae Crowder and Ante Zizic, plus the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick in the deal, is reportedly trying to extract another asset, which has a deadline of 10 a.m. Thursday for players involved to pass physicals.
Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that Cleveland may have dialed back its request from one of Boston’s top young players to a first-round pick of some sort, of which the Celtics are well-stocked over the next few years. “The conversation has included second-round considerations, too,” Wojnarowski wrote..
In any event, neither side presumably wants to have to take back players it just dealt away to a conference rival. Meanwhile, Thomas’s concerns include the fact that he will be a free agent at the end of the upcoming season, and Wojnarowski described him as “forceful” in insisting that his hip was merely a temporary problem.
“There’s never been an indication that I wouldn’t be back, and there’s never been an indication that this is something messing up my career,” Thomas said. “Maybe I am not going to be back as soon this season as everyone wants me to be, but I’m going to be back, and I’m going to be the same player again. No doctor has told me anything different than that.”
“I haven’t had one doctor tell me that this injury is going to hurt my career,” Thomas said, adding, “Surgery was not the best option in this case.”
The 28-year-old player, who finished third in the NBA with 28.9 points per game, said he first incurred the injury in a March game against the Timberwolves, when the much larger Karl-Anthony Towns “fell” on him. “I kept playing on it and making it worse — until I couldn’t play anymore last season,” he said.
Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge said last week that the lingering effects of the injury played “some” role in his decision to make the trade for Irving. Wojnarowski cited league sources in reporting that “Boston has believed that it was clear in its assessment of Thomas’ physical status and that the information was communicated to the Cavaliers in conversations before” the trade.
“I don’t know what [Cleveland] is doing,” Thomas told ESPN. “It’s out of my control. I just want to talk about what I can control, and I know that this [hip] won’t be a problem into the future.”
For his part, Irving has had little to say publicly about the trade while keeping a low profile on social media, as well. The most recent Twitter activity by the four-time all-star was to retweet a post earlier this month from the “NBA 2K” video game series, touting his “new Cavs uniform.”